wordy stuff at the organ grinder

Author: Open Book (Page 1 of 3)

Hannah M Teasdale, Adrian Buckner and Rick Hall: Tuesday 4th June Open Book

‘If Anais Nin and Shane Meadows met at a bar to write prose and poems it may well end up like this. An awareness of vulnerability is a strength that Hannah Teasdale expresses  with power and insight whilst creating an urban cinematographic vibe of working-class life without for one moment feeling sorry for itself…’

Antony R. Owen

Poem from ‘Indelicate Sundays’

The Weir

Let’s try our luck at getting lost

and step out into the slant-rain black

storm the path where rivers flood

and chip-wrappers, dog-shit and lichen

become one. Let us locate ourselves, or not,

by the water’s flow, upstream, from the bank

where his bloated body was found. They think

he didn’t mean to drown, local chitter-chatter hinting

he was pushed by a gang of needle-hungry tramps.

It’s a good story. I push down my jeans and squat, piss

behind the emergency life-float ring. Your clothing fades

into the middle of nowhere and my downstream disappears.

Also Published in ‘Interpreter’s House’ Issue 65

Adrian Buckner’s poetry collections are available from Five Leaves and Leafe Press, the latest being SeeSaw from Leafe.

Since retiring from teaching poetry and creative writing at Derby University, he has been grappling with the highly contestable idea of a purely lyrical poem, and attempting to write some.

The Ancient Sunbather

He’s not impressed by warnings

of a hole in the sky:

Six weeks and not a drop of rain;

he is back in a golden age

of summers possessed undimmed

in his ageing heart.

He lies in the parched land

like a die hard colonist

sticking it out in Delhi after ‘47,

making a go of the new Rhodesia –

unmoved by forebodings of a world

falling in, a setting sun.      

Rick Hall is a writer and consultant on the arts, creativity and learning, and the founder of Nottingham education charity, Ignite!. Now retired from Ignite!, Rick is a Visiting Fellow at NTU, and serves on the steering groups of Nottingham Civic Exchange, Creativity Collaboratives and the European Citizen Science Association.  A frequent visitor to Finland, Rick was Writer in Residence in the village of Koli in North Karelia in 2019. His current projects are research into children’s games and the A-Z of Community.  His poetry comprises occasional topical sonnets, and thankfully has never been published.

And a few lines from The Start of the Cricket Season


I’m pleased to inform all chums in the States
That a new cricket season’s upon us;
While Tiger stalks lush greens at Augustus,
The next batsman in, in gloom sits and waits.

The crowd under blankets peers shivering,
His dog seeks ankles to worry and bite;
(Rage, rage against an appeal for bad light)
Like all hope, his sandwich is withering.

When drizzle to showers brings out the covers,
And dewdrops on cold noses become streams,
The scorer in his box muses and dreams,
‘Not a past-time for wild Latin lovers.’

In April, anticipation’s complete;
The sound of leather on willow is sweet.

Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson – Empty Vessels Tour : Tuesday 7th May

Released 31st May, 2024 // 120 pages // 978-1-916938-19-9 // RRP £11.99

All Empty Vessels is an urgent, emotional commentary on what it is to exist in our contemporary world. Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson each taking 6 sections of 6 poems each, explore topics as widespread as the class system, Edgar Allen Poe, and the lyricism of night. Even poetry and poetics itself becomes a subject of scrutiny. In the hands of these two poets, these themes become an eclectic, fluid tapestry of ideas that mold themselves around both the specific and the universal, and that present an unapologetic, honest, and uncompromising account of modern life. All Empty Vessels is a book for those who want poetry to be unafraid, and written with a fire whose embers lay smouldering long after the pages of the book have been closed.

PRAISE for All Empty Vessels:

Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson’s All Empty Vessels is a multi-person conversation. Two men in conversation with imagination, language, illness, power and limitation. Back and forth, between the poets — whose friendship is evident in the collaboration — the reader is brought into the intimate space of confession, creativity, chaos and collaboration. This joint collection makes few promises, but the one it demonstrates is that even in emptiness, connection is a companion for All Empty Vessels.

— Pádraig Ó Tuama

This diurnal/nocturnal double act spits and wheezes an electro-magnetic sociology of the underdog spirit with venom and flare. Animated by a summonings or invocation of Edgar Allan Poe and a character named ‘Poet’, the reader is razed by a wild-card graffiti of the spirit. This is a Butoh of working class robustness/consciousness: a dance of death performed to the British class system, executed on an altar of flickering screens, night walks, radiophonic dead air and luminous introspection. A haunting is bad enough, but a double haunting, where Kent summons McPherson and McPherson responds to Kent, reads like a vigorous card game: the flickering deck of their contaminant thought laid down swiftly, card by card, and without remorse. And yet, there is bathos, tenderness and liminality. In a dual showmanship of a new warning for both past and future, these are ‘new forgeries. . . for invisible dawns’ housed in a ‘coffin rolled across a minefield’. You stand warned.

— MacGillivray

Two poets writing so brilliantly and wearing a full suit of artistic armoury; what’s not to like? Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson’s poetics are simultaneously interfused and complimentary of one another, befitting a book of exceptionally nuanced, collaborative poems and texts. Open, ludic, tender, defiant and with multiple helpings of satiric wit, nothing appears off limits in these poems of lyric intimacy, cast across psychological (and socio-political) time and space. Kent and McPherson are a pair of shapeshifters, metamorphic, restless, and so continually uncovering and recovering perceptions within a spindled self. Here, hearts become mirrors in a family tree, the ‘I’ orbits ‘delicately as a torpedo on payday’ and desire is haunted ‘with the eyes of a gundog’. Death is cast too, never far away like an eye at the porthole. This metamorphic effect tilts the poem from sea to sky and back down to earth again, ensuring the writing is located at all times, bound by both poet’s perfect-pitch musicianship. All Empty Vessels listens in to the overboiling temperature of the times. This is a bicameral poetics that comes with stark and subtle warnings. Poets too are implicated, everything is at stake—it’s all or nothing, as Jean Genet said it must be. Time to wake up from ‘tone-deaf banjo’ playing and ‘ceremonial bootlicking’, or else ‘the future watches rabbits thrashing in the snares’. Read this and be fully nourished, yet hungry and, as I did, read it all over again.

— James Byrne

ABOUT Aaron Kent & Stuart McPherson:

Aaron Kent is a working-class writer, stroke survivor, and insomniac from Cornwall. His 2nd collection, The Working Classic, is available from the87press. He has read his poetry for The BBC, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and Stroke Association, had work published in various journals, and is an Arvon tutor. His poetry has been translated into languages including French, Hungarian, German, Cymraeg, and Kernewek, and has been set to music.

Stuart McPherson is a prize-winning poet from the UK. His poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog Magazine, Bath Magg, Poetry Wales, Anthropocene, Blackbox Manifold, Prelude, and One Hand Clapping. In October 2022, Stuart was the winner of the Ambit Annual Poetry Competition. His second collection, End Ceremonies, was published via Broken Sleep Books on August 31st 2023.


Submit to the Medusa

SUBMIT TO THE MEDUSA Kathy Kieth, tireless editor of ace American online journal Medusa’s Kitchen, having recently published work by Open Book host Neil Fulwood and regular Open Book attendee Hongwei Bao, has put out a transatlantic appeal for more work from Nottingham poets.

Let’s not disappoint her. Head over to Medusa’s information and submission guidelines page (link below) and send her your best and boldest work.


Becky Cullen and Birgit Friedrich – Tuesday 5th March


I am
@beckycullen on Twitter
@drbeckycullen on Instagram (not on the latter as much)

Becky Cullen is fond of all kinds of potatoes. Her poems dip in and out of the different lifetimes experienced by someone (still) living in their home town. ‘Majid Sits in a Tree and Sings’ was a winner of the Poetry Business pamphlet competition; her debut collection ‘A Reader’s Guide to Time’ won the Live Canon competition. 

Here is the text and a poetry film of my poem ‘How to Hang Washing’  – film by Rebecca Goldsmith 

How to Hang Washing

It must be spring. There should be blackthorn

blossom, a smudge of sun across your cheek.

From your patch of earth, you’ll hear the crest

of chatter from the playground at the school.

These pegs nip snugly, in time with magpie

calls, as your arms lift, stretch, clip, repeat.


Birgit Friedrich, originally from Germany, found her home in Nottingham in her thirties and has never looked back. Nottingham also serves as the setting for her novel, What I Never Knew About Love.
She hopes to finish the final edits of her novel soon so that she can return to writing poetry.

Some of her poems can be found in the anthology Settlement Status and Poetry for All, published by Civic Leicester in 2021.

After completing her MA in Creative Writing at NTU, she co-founded Dandelion’s Poetry, a local poetry group.

When she’s not writing or reading, you can find Birgit at poetry events and pubs, enjoying a glass of wine or two with her incredible friends.

Guy Jones and Shaun Belcher – Tuesday 6th February


Guy is the Writer In Residence for Hothouse Theatre, a community theatre and film project in Nottingham. He has written several fringe-style plays and short films for Hothouse.
He also performs poetry on the Nottingham Poetry scenes. He has self-published a collection of pieces that have been performed called In The Moment 1. In The Moment 2 will be out this year.




Shaun Belcher was born Oxford, England in 1959 and brought up on a down-land farm before moving to a council estate in the small town of Didcot in 1966 just as England won the world cup..

We have not won the world cup again since 1966 and Shaun Belcher is not as famous as Simon Armitage although his songs are better.

Tuesday Shannon & Alan Baker: Open Book 7th November


Alan Baker was born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and has lived in Nottingham since 1985, where he has been editor of the poetry publisher Leafe Press for the last twenty years, and editor of its associated webzine Litter.

His previous poetry collections include Variations on Painting a Room (Skysill, 2011), Letters from the Underworld (Red Ceilings, 2018) and Riverrun (KFS, 2019).
He has translated the poetry of Yves Bonnefoy and Abdellatif Laâbi.

His latest pamphlet is A Journal of Enlightened Panic (Shoestring Press, 2020).

Today The Snow

Today the snow, and tonight
it lies on my car, and on all
the roads that she must go.
To be in a warm hotel in midwinter,
isn't that enough comfort?
Today the snow, tomorrow
I will save you from the rest of your life,
or is it mine? I would like
to help someone to live after my death -
eyes, liver, kidneys, pancreas
left on the fields of morning
while I'm in a dreamless sleep.
What could be more idyllic
than an exhibitionof the latest luggage?
Are your shoes clean, young man?
One believes so. And who are we?
To argue, that is.
I earn a living, recount
colourful episodes from my past,
swell my feet on crystals of white.
Isn't that enough? But no.
'Our researches must continue'
and there are language courses
yet to be complete. The latest
adult films to be watched.
Slide softly into the bed of white.
Protect the night, snow,
and don't allow yourself to be fooled.

“Today the Snow” originally appeared in the pamphlet February Hotel from Bamboo Books.



Tuesday Shannon

About Tuesday Shannon

Tuesday Shannon has an AHRC-funded PhD from Nottingham Trent University where she now an associate lecturer.
Her work has been featured in Soundswrite Press’s ‘Take Three: Volume One’, Left Lion, P.N. Review and others.



Between a boarded-up chippy
and a boarded-up florist
second- or third-hand fridges
lean to attention.

But there are no passers-by,
no eyes to catch and tempt –
just fallen leaves, empty buses,
artificial light.

In the shelter of a closed shop door
a teenager tugs at his hoodie,
lifts a cigarette with his left hand,
shakes a cannister in his right.

2nd Anniversary of Open Book: Tony Challis and Shaun Belcher – Tuesday 3 October 2023

Come and celebrate the “2nd anniversary of OPEN BOOK readings with Neil Fulwood .


Tony Challis has been writing poetry since the 1980s, as well as short stories and memoir. He has had poems published in magazines local to Nottingham, has had a poem commended in a national poetry competition, and is Chair of Nottingham Poetry Society. Tony is also keen on performing his poetry at spoken word events and at poetry gatherings. He is a member of a number of poetry writing groups within which he hones his skills. He now has a substantial  body of poetry written which he is keen to share with the world.

A Quick Queerbashing

It was only a five minute walk
across the main road to his ex.
Well-coiffed, in leather jacket,
fresh, smart and bouncing.
It was on the way back that it happened.

Times come when the search for words is dry,
when it is hard to maintain a dribble of chat.
He could not reply, only smile with his eyes.
The frame firmly placed over his face prevented
replies; bolted in place to help his jaw heal.

I had to keep a conversation going, talk
about my doings, mutual friends, shows….
He could write brief notes on paper, just.
If I had had a companion there might’ve been banter,
cross talk, jokes shared to liven his time.

I had read reports, how he had walked
in amongst a group of five, innocent,
blind to their baseball bats, uncomprehending
of their anger, of how they had failed to find
a victim at the hill-top water tower.

He would do; he was clearly queer.
They gifted him a metal plate in his leg,
a problem kneeling to unhelpful gods.
Did their own hearts scare them as they struck?
I recall the gratitude in his warm gaze.

A Year in Normandie 2020-21: David Hockney

Enter, leave the sun to shine on Saltaire.
Stroll around imagined time beside a frieze.
90.75 metres and you have walked a year.
The slower your step the more slowly time passes.
Winter to winter, from bare wind-braving trees
back to snow-protected branches.
Bright blossoms, more here than in Yorkshire
the artist says. He wants that.
He now knows the trees as individuals,
scoffs at, “When you’ve seen one tree
you’ve seen them all.” Every tree is unique.
Eye-spangling ipad art
gives a sugar-rush of colour,
sweetening the retina.
Uplift and joy, even in fallen leaves.
Walk outside, breathing deeply, smiling;
see the sun putting on evening clothes of pastel clouds.
Also mud and black puddles.
The day’s residue dropped into car boots,
the muffled drum of car doors closing.
Nose no friend to fumes.

Nottingham Poetry Society



Shaun Belcher is a multimedia artist and poet, originally from Oxford, now a retired teacher in Nottingham.

He has written poetry since his mid 20’s,  influenced by his rural upbringing as well as wider themes of dislocation and global technologies.

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